DeVotchka – How it Ends

DeVotchka
How it Ends

The story of Denver, Colorado’s DeVotchka reads like a fantastic tale, filled with gypsies, mariachi schools, arranged marriages, and burlesque troupes. It’s almost hard to believe this musicians came together, but now, with How it Ends, the eclectic DeVotchka offers its third full-length album, filled with influences that span the globe. This is truly a world affair.

So let’s sum up. The band routinely features such instruments as sousaphone, accordion, violin, trumpet, upright bass, and bouzouki in addition to guitar, piano, and drums. The drummer was raised by Lithuanian polka musicians and studied mariachi horns. The bass player was in a traveling Civil War recreationist band. The singer came from parents – a Sicilian and a gypsy – whose marriage was arranged, and he’s toured relentlessly with classically trained musicians. The artists’ influences are as varied as Eastern folk music, South American music, and North American folk and punk. If that doesn’t sum up how this band sounds, that’s alright. Just listen.

The gorgeous “You Love Me” showcases the singer’s powerful vocals and mariachi-style influences, while “The Enemy Guns” has spaghetti-western themes along with gypsy flourishes. There’s hints of “Lady of Spain” on the gypsy-style “Charlotte Mittnacht,” and this cheerful instrumental could easily score a film taking place in Eastern Europe. The mariachi horns can be heard on “We’re Leaving,” and electric guitars add a more modern touch to the Eastern folk of “Viens avec Moi.” Perhaps the perfect example of this band’s unique sound is the rollicking “Such a Lovely Thing,” which used accordion, assorted percussion, strings, horns, and more. Despite your normal tendencies, this one will make you want to dance, perhaps around a campfire near some brightly painted wagons.

If those influences seem to unfamiliar, the band mixes enough North American roots and folk influences in other songs. The title track, for example, is a soft but soaring release that verges on chamber pop, while the gorgeous love (and death) song, “Dearly Departed” could move anyone to tears. The tinkling keys and light rhythm of “Too Tired” makes it a light folk-leaning song. And while the instrumental “Lunnaya Pagonka” is rich with violin and Eastern rhythms, it has semblances of post-rock instrumentals as well.

I once passed up two touring bands in Denver to see DeVotchka play with another Denver act, Munly, and I didn’t regret it. The band’s stage presence is as much a quality of its music as its disparate instrumentation. How it Ends is simultaneously beautiful and intriguing, rich with an exotic flare that goes far and beyond what one would expect, and the result is wonderful.